Health Care Reform Policy Debate Affects Seniors

Health care reform policy debate affects seniors
Summary: The health care policy options under debate could reduce costs and dramatically improve quality of long-term health care for seniors.
On Wednesday, Members of the Senate Finance Committee will debate health care policy options aimed at making the health care delivery system more effective and efficient. Many of the proposed options have a high potential to benefit the long-term care of seniors.
The policy options, released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucaus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would create incentives for health care providers to focus on high quality care and to closely coordinate with a patient’s other doctors and providers. This is important for seniors who seek care from multiple doctors and risk doubling up on prescriptions that could have harmful interactions.
The proposed health care policy revisions, which will be debated in a closed-door hearing, also target changes in how private insurance companies bill Medicare patients, and are intended to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare system.
The following details, as released by the Senate Finance Committee, reveal aspects of the health care policy options that would have a dramatic impact on seniors who receive continued care for chronic illness:
Promoting Quality Care: Medicare currently reimburses health care providers on the basis of the volume of care they provide. For every test, scan, or procedure conducted, providers
receive payment – regardless of whether the treatment contributes to helping a patient recover. Medicare must move to a system that reimburses health care providers based on the quality of care they provide. The policy options would shift Medicare from volumebased purchasing to valuebased purchasing. Under valuebased purchasing, Medicare would provide new payment incentives for care that contributes to positive patient outcomes. The policy options would establish a valuebased purchasing program for hospitals starting in fiscal 2012, direct CMS to develop plans to establish valuebased purchasing programs for home health and skilled nursing facility providers by 2012, strengthen and expand programs that will eventually lead to valuebased purchasing for doctors, reduce inappropriate ordering of imaging services like CT scans and MRIs, and start inpatient rehabilitation and longterm care hospital providers on a path toward valuebased purchasing program.
Promoting Primary Care: Primary care doctors are vital to reducing costs and improving quality in the health care system. Primary care doctors provide preventive care, help patients
make informed medical decisions, serve a critical care management role and help coordinate with other doctors. Despite their critical function, primary care doctors receive significantly
lower Medicare payments than other doctors, which has led to a shortage of primary care doctors. To encourage more primary care doctors to be part of the system, the policy options would provide primary care practitioners and targeted general surgeons with a Medicare payment bonus of at least five percent for five years, and provide Medicare payment to primary care practices that provide specific transitional care services for beneficiaries with high costs, chronic illnesses.
Fostering Care Coordination and Provider Collaboration: Today, many doctors want to spend more time working together, but report that current payment systems often discourage care coordination. When providers in different settings, like doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities work together, patients can get well sooner and costs in the
system are lower.
Chronic Care Management:To encourage chronic care management, the policy options will foster innovation by allowing broadscale Medicare pilot programs of patientcentered care
coordination models for the chronically ill that improve quality and reduce spending, and allow preliminary rapidcycle Medicare testing of evidencebased care management and coordination models across various settings to determine best models for success.
Provider Collaboration:To encourage hospitals and other health care providers to work together, the policy options will provide Medicare payment incentives to hospitals that reduce
preventable hospital readmissions, and provide a single bundled Medicare payment for acute and postacute episodes of care.
Payment for Accountable Care:To incentivize providers to improve patient care and reduce costs by offering patients access to care at a wide range of health care providers and settings, the policy options would address the impending cuts to physician reimbursement rates, allow highquality providers to share in savings they achieve to the Medicare program through increased collaboration, and expand Medicare participation in communitylevel health care delivery system reforms.
Quality Measure Development: The policy options will focus on quality measure development by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to partner with stakeholders to
develop a national quality improvement plan and encouraging development of next generation quality measures that are aligned with delivery system reform goals like, for example, measuring
care coordination for chronically ill.
Health Care Workforce: Ensuring America’s health care system has a sufficient supply of health care professionals to meet the demands of a changing and aging population is essential to
maintaining focus on highquality, cost efficient care. To strengthen the health care workforce, the policy options would increase graduate medical education training positions for
primary care and implement other immediate modernizations to the Medicare GME program, and develop a proposal that requires Health and Human Services to work with external
stakeholders to develop and implement a national workforce strategy, in conjunction with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Medicare Advantage: Private insurers that participate in Medicare should bring value to the program and to beneficiaries. Health care reform should ensure payments to private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program bring high quality, efficient plans into the Medicare program. The policy options would use current measures to pay plans for quality improvement, change statutory benchmarks or set benchmarks based on competitive plan bids, provide a bonus payment to Medicare Advantage plans that use evidencebased programs to manage care of the chronically ill, and allow plans to continue to offer extra benefits, but reducing wide variation among plans.
Combating Fraud, Waste and Abuse: Reducing fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare will reduce costs and improve quality throughout the system. The Medicare improper payment rate
for 2008 was 3.6 percent, or $10.4 billion, and the National Health Care AntiFraud Association estimates that fraud amounts to at least three percent of total health care spending, or more
than $60 billion per year. The policy options combat fraud, waste and abuse by enhancing the review of health care providers prior to granting billing privileges, leveraging technology to
better evaluate claims, educating providers to promote compliance with program requirements, monitoring programs more vigilantly, and penalizing fraudulent activity swiftly and sufficiently.
Caregiverlist provides a helpful breakdown for individuals trying to better understand what Medicare covers.
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Swine Flu Symptoms: Keep Seniors Safe

What should seniors and their caregivers be aware of with the recent announcement of the swine flu virus?

Seniors are always impacted more by illnesses because their natural defenses are no longer as strong to fight diseases and their bodies may already be weakened by age-related illnesses.  A geriatric doctor once told me that pneumonia is an old man's best friend as he had so often seen it be the cause of death when a senior was successful in fighting every other age-related disease.  Seniors and their Caregivers should be extra careful to be aware of the symptoms of the swine flu virus in order to take quick action if they occur.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued the declaration of public emergency as a routine step to make sure we stay aware and take precautions.  If a senior develops any signs of illness, as always, you should call their doctor and follow their advice.  The health alert was issued to assist Americans to learn about the illness in order to prevent further spread of the virus in the U.S.A.  The good news is you do not get the swine flu from eating pork. 

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Can humans catch swine flu?
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans which is why this outbreak has caused some alarm.  The causes of human infections in the past have been extremely rare but have occurred when a person had direct contact with pigs with the disease, which happened in Wisconsin in 1988.  People who interact with pigs as farm workers usually are the ones who first contract the swine flu illness and then spread it to other humans.

How common is swine flu infection in humans?
The Center for Disease Control reports approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza were reported.

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Caregiver Reference Checks

Caregivers hired for seniors have a more rigorous screening and hiring process that most employees, including nannies.  This is because senior caregivers become a friend and confidant to their clients and many times are working with a senior who may have memory loss.  It is very important to make sure the caregiver not only has the skills and experience required for caregiving but is also dependable and trustworthy.

Professional caregivers also want to be sure that hiring senior home care agencies have policies in place to both guide and protect them from anything inappropriate as they want to continue to work in the senior care field.

How do agencies screen caregivers?

The first step is a multi-state criminal background check.  Caregiverlist provides information on background check laws by state and advocates that you should run fast if a company is offering a "free" background check - lots of websites, including nanny websites, offer free checks and a good background check is going to cost at least $15.00.  Most free checks are simply a name and social security number match and perhaps a sex offender search as these are computerized and regularly updated (mandated by law).  But there are many, many counties in the U.S.A. who do not have computerized criminal records or who do not update these records daily and for this reason, to adequately do a criminal record check, you need a human to have access to the courthouse and pay the fee for accessing these records.

Caregivers then must pass a telephone screening to be invited for an interview.  Caregivers invited for an interview must fill out an application and then meet with usually a few of the company executives (Case Managers, Staffing Coordinators, Field Supervisors) and then attend a training session and successfully complete a training test.

Reference checks are conducted on only the caregivers the agency chooses to hire.  Reference checks include personal and professional references to learn about the caregiver's dependability and character.

Information verified in reference checks include:

  • Dates of employment at former jobs
  • Attendance record
  • Reason for leaving job
  • Strengths of the employee
  • Weaknesses of the employee
  • Asking if the former managers would hire the individual to take care of their own parent or grandparent

Most agencies require 3 personal and 3 business references from caregiver job applicants.  There are many kind and caring caregivers seeking to share their skills with seniors in need of care and the hiring process, including checking references, helps validate the caregiver's qualifications.

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Use Spring Cleaning for Senior Care Needs Check

Do you think your parent or grandparent may be at a point where they need caregiving services to help them better navigate their daily living as they deal with the challenges of medical illnesses or memory loss?  Are you noticing they are not keeping up with some of their household maintenance or staying active in their interests?  And do you know where they would like to be cared for should an emergency arise - in their home by a Senior Home Care Agency or in a nursing community?

It can be difficult to start the conversation about senior care needs with a loved one.  Holidays are often the only time relatives are able to spend lengthy time with their older family members yet they are not necessarily the best time to have these conversations about life changes since holidays are often already stressful times for seniors as they are reminded of lost loved ones and the realities of growing older.

Taking the time for a spring cleaning visit can provide an opportunity to participate in a needed activity with your senior relatives while also checking up on their care needs. Parents usually are accepting of this as you are assisting with a needed task. And, while performing spring cleaning, you will have a closer look into their daily living habits to see if there are any additional care needs or medical conditions that should be checked to assist your senior loved ones to enjoy healthy aging.

Catching a senior's medical and care needs early will assist in slowing the progression of some age-related illnesses and assist in maintaining a safe environment for the senior as they age. Seniors often will not share signs of age-related illnesses because of their fears associated with dealing with the new medical conditions and other times they simply do not notice the changes because they develop slowly. Spring cleaning offers the perfect opportunity to interact with a senior and to do a health check-up on their activities of daily living.

Here are some senior spring cleaning tips and ways to incorporate checking on potential age-related diseases and conditions such as hearing loss, vision loss, weight gain, arthritis and forgetfulness as you are assisting your senior loved one with their spring cleaning.

  • Closets: Reorganize and assist with storing the out-of-season clothing and discarding the out-of-style clothing. Take a look to make sure clothing is being kept clean and well maintained.   Alert: Seniors developing vision loss, such as Macular Degeneration or memory loss, such as Alzheimer's Disease may begin to wear the same clothing over and over again and not keep up with laundry regularly.
  • Bathroom: Clean and organize the bathroom medicine cabinet and discard old or unused items. Check to see if the shower or bathtub is being used regularly and if anything is in need of repair. Check medicine cabinet and toss or remove any medications which are no longer prescribed.   Alert: Are non-skid rugs in place? Are there any new medicines or care products which would indicate new medical conditions you may not be aware of? Is it time for a grab-bar or raised toilet seat for safety? Bathrooms offer easy opportunities for falls for seniors with mobility issues which may be caused by age-related medical conditions or side-effects of medications.
  • Kitchen: Clean out the refrigerator. Are there any buried treasures with expiration dates long passed? Does it look like they are eating a nutritious diet?  Check all appliances to make sure they are functioning properly and that there have been no equipment damages due to misuse. Alert: Eating regular meals is important for good health at all ages. Consider what health conditions or medications may require special dietary needs. Check for sodium levels in prepared foods. Discuss the daily meal plans to see if additional kitchen tools might make meal preparation easier or if the senior needs help in diversifying their menu.
  • Living Room: Remove and clean curtains, vacuum and shampoo the carpet and dust and clean furniture. Are there any rugs or mats which could lend to tripping or falling more easily? Does the furniture need to be re-arranged for easier use?  Alert: Check to see if it looks like a daily routine is being maintained and notice if reading or television watching have decreased which could be signs of vision or hearing loss.
  • Bedroom: Change bed linens and check to see if bedding has been changed regularly and if they have been sleeping in the bed. Do they need new bed linens or is it time to discuss a new mattress to assist with more comfortable sleep? Alert: Seniors will sometimes begin to sleep in an easy chair or sofa instead of their bed due to a variety of conditions from depression to new physical conditions such as back, neck or leg pain or because they are becoming confused about time of day.
  • Driving: If the senior is still driving, take a ride with them to the grocery store or to run an errand to make sure they are driving safely. Check the car and garage to make sure there are no dents or damages from inappropriate driving.  Alert: Seniors who inappropriately drive risk their lives and the lives of others on the road. Learn about the senior driving laws in each state and how to find assistance if it is time to take the keys away. Office: Confirm the names and contact information for all the medical doctors and their pharmacy. Update list of medical conditions and medications. Confirm Power of Attorney for financial matters and for healthcare.

While engaged in spring cleaning, you can find a time to talk about the long-term plans for senior care by discussing what otehrs are doing and finding out their current plans for care should the need arise.  Confirm what their plan for senior care needs would be and their retirement care budget so you can be prepared in case of an emergency. Discuss long-term care insurance policy options and the financial capacity to pay for private care, as Medicare does not provide for long-term care. Usually seniors will agree to have you help with their spring cleaning and because you are spending interactive time with them, you will be more likely to notice any changes in their care needs and make necessary arrangements in order to prevent a medical emergency later.

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Senior Care Funding: Government Budgets and Private Pay

Most people do not want to think or talk about how to pay for senior care until the issue of needing a caregiver to assist with daily needs actually arrives.  Hire a senior home care agency or move to assisted living?  Recover in a nursing home or in your own home with skilled care provided by Medicare?

And what if you run out of money to pay for care yourself, do not have long-term care insurance and still need care services?  The good news is you can qualify for care as a Medicaid resident in a nursing home.  However, the number one factor in quality care is the staff to resident ratio in a nursing home.  This is why the Coalition to Protect Senior Care, representing dozens of healthcare groups throughout the country, is advocating for retaining Medicaid and Medicare funding for nursing homes at current levels and asking our government to consider the possibility of additional job creation through the funding of more frontline caregivers who provide the bedside care for nursing home residents. 

Some politicians are rightly concerned about the ongoing ability to fund senior entitlement programs.  But at the same time, all of us continue to fund these programs through our payroll deductions.  Former President Bill Clinton has been credited with passing the "look back law" which prohibits seniors from gifting their entire estates in order to avoid paying for long-term care.  Now the government can actually look back to see if any improper gifting has been done to allow a senior to have the government foot the bill for their long-term care.  However, regardless of whether the government or individuals are paying for the nursing care, adequate levels of caregiver staffing should be maintained.

Caregiverlist reports that nursing home staffing shortages contribute to lower quality care in nursing homes.  As Medicare does pay for short-term care in a nursing home, many of us will need to rely on their services, even if just for a few weeks after a hospital stay.

What can you do?  Call you Congressman and Senator's office and let them know your concerns.  Let them know that staffing in nursing homes should be a priority.

You can also visit President Barack Obama's website and let him know your thoughts as Congress begins discussing healthcare reform legislation on Tuesday.

Caregiver Positions

Senior care positions for caregivers include part-time, full-time and live-in companion care positions and 24-hour live-in positions for both companion caregivers, Certified Nursing Aides and Home Health Aides.

As the senior population continues to increase as America's largest generation, the Baby Boomers, grow older and live longer due to medical advancements, the need for senior caregivers will continue to increase.

Who hires senior caregivers?  Senior home care agencies, nursing homes and assisted living communities.

What are the typical duties for caregivers?  Duties include assisting with meal planning and preparation and cleaning the kitchen after a meal, assisting with personal care which may include helping with eating, bathing and toileting, assisting with light housekeeping, laundry, changing bed linens, monitoring medications, coaching exercises, running errands, organizing the weekly calendar and escorting the senior to appointments (especially if they are experiencing memory loss).  In addition, activities for socializing and exercising the memory may be included in the caregiving schedule.  Examples would be outings to community events, visiting a museum, attending a music or sporting event, creating a scrapbook or writing correspondence to friends and family members.

Seniors who are coping with an age-related disease such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's disease, or battling cancer may require more hands-on care.  In addition, seniors who have chosen hospice for their end-of-life care, may also require more assistance which may need to be provided by a Certified Nursing Aide or Home Health Aide.

You may learn more about training for these certifications and caregiving job descriptions on our website, and you may apply for a caregiving position in your area.


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Caregiver Training

Caregivers often email us to ask about caregiver training programs.  Most senior home care agencies offer training programs to all of their newly hired caregivers through orientation and continuing education seminars.  Special training programs for caring for seniors with memory loss and providing hospice care are usually offered.

Family members are often pleasantly surprised to find a caregiver is successful in interacting with their parent when family members have not been.  Often this is simply because the caregiver has been properly trained in providing senior care.  Non-medical senior caregivers may now receive online caregiver training through a 10-hour course created by aQuire training solutions which will meet the requirements that have been created by the departements of health in some states.

Many hospitals and community programs offer training and support groups for senior caregivers.  The department of health in each state regulates caregiver certification programs which are required by the laws in that state.  All states administer certification for Certified Nursing Aides.  Some states also provide certifications for training as a Certified Home Health Aide and Certified Personal Care Assistant.  Many of these certification programs are offered through community colleges and hospitals.  Sometimes an employer will cover the cost of the program or offer reimbursement after the caregiver certification training has been successfully completed.

Each state maintains a registry of those caregivers who have active certifications and requires continuing education or ongoing employment in order for the certification to remain active.  Renewals of certifications usually are required every 2 years.  All certification programs require caregivers to successfully complete criminal background checks and drug tests in order to be admitted.  Senior home care agencies, nursing homes and hospitals often require caregivers to be certified as this provides an additional guarantee that the caregiver has completed a background check, drug test, written exam, skills exam and has maintained all qualifications to remain active in the state registry (which includes not having formal complaints or disciplinary actions taken against them while employed as an aide).

Senior caregivers can also contact their local department on aging to find out about senior care training programs they may offer. 

Certified Nursing Aides are the hands-on caregivers in nursing homes and for senior home care agencies - they are often referred to as a nurse by seniors as they provide the care many people assume nurses provide.  Registered nurses do learn all of the certified nursing aide skills as part of their registered nurse education and are qualified to perform the care and many times do when hospitals and nursing homes are short-staffed.

Personal Care Assistants usually have at least 40 hours of training.

The CHHHA program is designed to provide a learning experience where students will be able to successfully obtain the entry-level skills necessary to obtain employment in the healthcare industry.

Some typical duties of a homemaker-home health aide include helping the patient take a bath, use the toilet or bedpan, and dress the patient. They also may prepare patient meals, do light laundering, straighten the patient’s room, run errands, and assist with exercise regimens.

The 76 hour curriculum mandated by the New Jersey Board of Nursing includes all components necessary (speech, occupational, physical therapy, CPR, dietary skills, etc.) to train participants to provide home care to the ill and elderly. . Students enrolled in this course will spend their time in classroom work, hands-on clinical practice, multimedia, lab skills practice and individualized student centered instruction.

The course is designed so that students will meet all requirements necessary to take the New Jersey Board of Nursing approved examination and become Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide (CHHHA) upon the successful completion of this course

Certified Personal Care Assistant (CPCA):  Trained to assist the elderly and disabled with meals, toileting and items needed for daily living.  Usually around 40 hours of training, often this level of care is referred to as companion care.

Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA):  Entry-level training to begin working in the healthcare field and prepares individuals for training as a Certified Nursing Aide.  Training includes:  assisting patients with bathing, toileting, dressing, nutrition education and meal preparation and exercise regimens. Usually around 75 hours of training.

Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.):  Training to assist a registered nurse in a nursing home or hospital to administer the hands-on care, including both the emotional and physical aspects of care.  Training includes proper transfers, bathing, dressing, vital signs, catheter care, feeding tube care, hospice care and how to maintain cleanliness for all care procedures.  Usually 150 hours of training both in a classroom and clinical setting.

Caregiverlist provides tutorials for certified nursing aide training and home health aide training and lab skills, along with senior care briefs for specific care items.

 You may also join the Professional Association of Caregivers to receive 10-hours of online training for free with a certificate of completion when you pass at the 80% pass rate.



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Caregiver Qualifications

What are the qualifications to be a senior caregiver?

Senior caregiving involves assisting seniors with their activities of daily living, or "ADL's".  What are these activities?  Anything required to function throughout the day as a healthy adult:  eating, bathing, toileting, shopping, cooking, household cleaning and managing scheduled appointments.  Socializing and exercising are also considered important activities for healthy aging.

Learn about the skills required for non-medical caregivers and take an 10-hour online training caregiver certification program created by the leader in online training, aQuire Training Solutions.  You may join the Professional Association of Caregivers for ongoing support as a caregiver.

Some seniors who are recovering from a stroke, heart attack, or coping with cancer or an age-related disease such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease may require more hands-on care by a Certified Nursing Aide or Home Health Aide.  Each state manages the licensing requirements for health care workers through their department of health.  Senior home care agencies, hospitals and nursing homes must follow the state regulations for hiring senior caregivers.

The United States has 1.8 million certified nursing aides (each state also requires nursing aides to update their certification, similar to a driver's license renewal, to maintain an active certification).  As the population ages, the need for senior caregivers will continue to grow, making caregiving a career where you will always find employment (even in a slow economy).

The basic qualifications for a companion caregiver are:

  • 18-years-of age
  • Caring personality
  • Interest in senior care demonstrated through volunteering or personal experience providing care
  • Communication skills:  able to speak English clearly and record care plan updates
  • Cooking skills:  able to prepare meals including oatmeal, soup, meat and vegetables
  • Dependability:  able to arrive to assignments on time and be easily reachable by phone
  • References:  must provide business and personal references - usually 3 references are required
  • Background Check:  must pass a criminal background check
  • Driving Skills:  sometimes required, if driving a senior in their car or in your car

Senior home care agencies will provide training for each assignment.  In addition, most senior home care agencies provide training through their new caregiver orientation along with ongoing training sessions for hospice care, memory loss care and labs for testing nursing aide skills.

Caregiverlist provides you with a Caregiver Quiz and Home Health Aide and Certified Nursing Aide lab skill worksheets.  If you are interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Aide, look for programs offered through your local community colleges and hospitals.

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Preventing Elder Abuse

Several cases of alleged senior abuse have crept up across the nation during the past month. On March 30, 2009, a 31-year-old former nursing home employee in Oklahoma was accused of abusing his senior patients and videotaping it, according to a Fox 23 news report.

Experts say many of these crimes against the elderly in long-term residential care are never reported to law enforcement or to the state and say it’s imperative for us to always be vigilant if we have a loved one in long-term care,” reported Kaci Christian of FOX 23.  The article describes the shock a family felt when they discovered their 60-year-old female relative, who was living in a nursing home and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, “badly beaten, with her face swollen and discolored."

There are many ways to reduce the risk of senior abuse. First, consider home-care options that allow more control over the caregivers who are in contact with your loved one.

The process of selecting home care can be overwhelming, with more than 5,000 senior home care agencies nationwide.

The Caregiverlist Checklist for standards of quality care for senior home care agencies is a resource that outlines requirements for safety and consistency in care, making it easier for families to make an educated decision. Regardless of what long-term care option is best suited for your loved one, it helps to be aware of some less obvious warning signs of abuse. The following warning signs are part of an extensive list compiled by the The National Center on Elder Abuse:

  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Physical signs of being subjected to punishment or signs of being restrained
  • Senior’s sudden change in behavior
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone
  • Senior acting extremely withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Senior displaying unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia, such as sucking, biting, rocking

If you suspect senior abuse, call the NCEA hotline at 1-800-677-1116. The NCEA web site offers a host of additional information on identifying elder abuse.

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Caregiver Employment

As the population ages, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the personal and home care aide job category will more than double in the next ten years.  If you are looking for job stability, becoming a senior caregiver could be the career for you.

While advances in medicine are enabling seniors to live longer, additional care services are often required.  For instance, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases dramatically for those over age 65.

According to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, about 40% of people aged 65 or older have age associated memory impairment (about 16 million people in the U.S.A.). Only about 1% of them will progress to dementia each year.  Although patients with mild cognitive impairment are able to continue to live independently, they show objective memory  impairments similar to those seen in people with very mild Alzheimer's disease. And about 10% of people aged 65 years or older have mild cognitive impairment, and nearly 15% of them develop Alzheimer's disease each year.

These are just the statistics for Alzheimer's disease care needs.  The likelihood for heart disease, stroke, cancer and Parkinson's disease also increase as we age.  Another interesting statistic:  the number one risk for women to develop breast cancer is living a longer life - the older we are, the greater the risk. 

The caregiver category is identified as professionals who help the elderly, disabled, ill and mentally disabled live in their own homes or in residential care facilities instead of in health facilities.

What type of jobs are available for senior caregivers? Nursing homes, assisted living communities, hospitals and senior home care agencies all hire certified nursing aides.  Usually certification can be obtained within two months and sometimes scholarships or grants are available from community programs. 

Caregiverlist's Senior News reports nursing homes will continue to need Certified Nursing Aides and provides information about the nursing aide programs in California and Illinois.

Have you worked as a nursing aide in a nursing home, hospital or for a senior home care agency?  We invite you to share with our site visitors which type of position you preferred.

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